Reviewed by Brooke Sellers
When most people think of a typical fantasy tale, the idea is more associated with a childish aura. Brandon Mull’s world of Fablehaven, however, offers a different take. Many like to imagine a world like Narnia–full of wonder and magic. This is the expectation of siblings Kendra and Seth, who are stuck with a grandfather that they hardly know, with whom they would much less want to spend two and a half weeks. All is as normal as it can get until Kendra, the elder sister, dares Seth to taste the strange milk that Dale, their grandpa’s friend, is bringing out to the insects that seem to swarm it. The bugs are, in fact, not bugs, but… faeries?
The first in a series of five books, this interesting take on the fantasy genre follows the story of Kendra and Seth. Their parents are, albeit begrudgingly, going on a cruise, meant to honor the wishes of the kids’ now deceased grandparents. They are all but happy to spend seventeen days with practical strangers–they have barely met these people, and if the numerous “No Trespassing” signs are any indicator of what they are about to experience, then it will surely be anything but normal. The house is rather nice, and all seems normal upon first glance. As any backyard would be in the late weeks of June, it is infested with countless bugs. The same man who had helped with their luggage in the yard bringing milk to the insects is the first indicator of something… off. The man, Dale, reveals a secret. Supposedly their grandfather is not aware that he is leaving this milk out, and the kids are never to go near it or taste it. Thus, as any sibling would do, Kendra dares Seth to do just that. The last thing she expects is Seth’s claims of seeing a real faerie. Much to Seth’s insistence, she tries for herself only to discover that he was, in fact, not at all joking.
Fablehaven is at the top of my personal favorites–Brandon Mull’s unique worlds are absolutely worth the read for anyone who has an appreciation for the type of work that leaves the audience questioning just as much as the characters themselves. Mull’s depiction of a fantasy world is well worth the read. There was never a part of this book that felt like a plot hole. Trust me when I say that this book is near perfect for teens and adults alike.
Brooke Sellers was a sophomore in the Gifted program at Hahnville High. She enjoys reading science-fiction, horror, and classics; drawing; and playing music.
Editor’s note: Book reviews are published throughout the summer and fall in agreement with Hahnville High School gifted English teacher Deborah Unger in conjunction with the Brown Foundation Service Learning Program and Unger’s “Adolescents Advocate Literacy” Brown Service Learning Grant.